Three laborers involved in radioactive cleanup around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant have alleged that a supervisor told them to dump debris in a river without regard for correct decontamination procedures, becoming the first workers to confirm publicly that corner-cutting took place.
At a news conference in the Diet building on Feb. 28, the men said a foreman ordered them to discard fallen branches and leaves into a river in an upland forest in Tamura, Fukushima Prefecture, in November 2012. The material was potentially contaminated with radioactive fallout and should have been collected for safe disposal.
"I dropped branches and leaves into the river, wondering whether it was all right," said one of the men, who is in his 40s. "I was afraid that I might be fired if I refused. But the supervisor was doing the same thing right in front of me."
The men identified the supervisor as one working for a subcontractor.
Slipshod cleanup work in Fukushima Prefecture has already been widely reported, but this is the first time that decontamination workers have publicly come forward.
Another of the men, in his 50s, said the supervisor told the workers they needed to dump the material because a deadline was approaching.
"We looked at each other when we received the instruction," he said. "We thought we were not supposed to do that."
The third man, in his 40s, said he related what had happened to officials at the Environment Ministry. He spoke to them for more than an hour, he said, but they appeared not to believe him.
The government has said it has no evidence of substandard work in that locality.
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